My weekend in pictures

weekend in pictures

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Dont stress about us in SA – a letter that just made my Monday morning

So Paul Harris, founder of First Rand sent this mail to a concerned friend:

Hi Jeff

Hope all is well with you guys. I will drop you a line later with the family news but I would first like to respond to the e-mail you sent me attaching an article by Clem Sunter, which seemed to concern you about us here in South Africa.

You also sent me an article last year by Moeletsi Mbeki warning about the danger of an “Arab Spring” in South Africa. I often get e-mails like this from “concerned friends” worried about us, which is sweet of you guys. Of course we are concerned. Some worrying things have happened but we have been through and survived much worse in much more volatile environments. Including the Boer War, two World Wars, apartheid, the financial crisis without a bank bailout, the Rindapest, Ge Korsten and Die Antwoord!

However, for as long as I can remember there have always been people who think SA has five years left before we go over the cliff. No change from when I was at school in the sixties. The five years went down to a few months at times in the eighties!

But it seems the people who are the most worried live far from the cliff in places like Toronto, Auckland, London and other wet and cold places. Also from St Ives and Rose Bay in Sydney, Dallas and Europe and other “safe places” that are in the grip of the global financial crisis, which by the way is quite scary. Many of them have survived decades of rolling “five years left” since they left South Africa. So maybe they will be right one day!

My message is, please don’t stress about us in South Africa. We are fine. We are cool. We know we live in the most beautiful country in the world with warm and vibrant people. There are more people here with smiles on their faces than in any country I have ever been to.

Young people are returning in droves with skills and a positive attitude. Collectively we bumble along and stuff many things up while letting off a hell of a lot of steam (have you heard of a chap called Julius Malema?). Yet in between South Africans do some amazing things like win a few gold medals, big golf tournaments and cricket and rugby matches.

The South Africans I know get off their butts and do things to build our country rather than whinge from a position of comfort. We actively participate in projects that improve the lot of underprivileged communities. I would not trade for anything last Saturday in a hall full of 1500 African teachers singing at the top of their voices and demonstrating their commitment to improving education in their communities.

We have our challenges and surprises. The standard deviation of our emotions are set at MAX. You are never just a “little bit happy” or a “little bit sad”. At one moment you can be “off the scale” pissed off or frustrated or sad or worried or fearful or depressed. The next moment you are “off the scale” exhilarated, or enchanted, or inspired, or humbled by a kind deed, or surprised by something beautiful. It makes life interesting and worth living.

We also have passionate debates about the future of SA. Helped of course by red wine which you must taste again because it is getting better every year! Clem makes a great contribution to the debate as others like Moletsi Mbeki do. Russell Loubser the ex-head of the JSE made a feisty speech the other day that has whipped up emotions. Up to MAX on the emotions meter of the ANC Youth League whose campaign for nationalisation of the mines was attributed to people who have IQs equal to room temperature.

South African politics has always been volatile, we have opinions that could not be further apart and it evokes emotion on a massive scale. Interesting and stimulating for those that want to take it seriously but noise in the system to me. Fortunately we are rid of apartheid that would have definitely pushed us over the cliff. These are the birth pangs of a new and unpredictable democracy. So buckle up and enjoy the ride and contribute! That is the message I convey to South Africans.

Sad as it is, it is true that the South African diaspora has a largely negative influence on confidence in South Africa. It would not be a problem if their fretting about how long we will last before we go over the cliff was merely a reflection of their concern for us, their friends and family.

The problem is that it does impact foreign investment, which is important for economic growth. A person who is thinking of coming to visit or investing is often put off by listening wide-eyed to the stories of people who have gapped it.

As you know I host many foreign visitors and I have never, EVER, met anyone who has visited for the first time without being blown away by the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. It is not for nothing that South Africa has the highest ratio of repeat visitors of all long-haul destinations.

So, Jeff, how can I help you stop stressing out about us? Maybe best is that you get exposed to some articles and websites that give a more balanced and uplifting perspective of South Africa. So please don’t worry and if you get a chance, put in a good word for us.

All the best

PAUL HARRIS

Red Hot Chili Peppers…FREE STUFF

Hey there!

So ABC has been given two tickets to giveaway to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Johannesburg.

Yay for those of you that weren’t lucky enough to get any!

So if you want them do the following:

  1. Like ABC it’s me
  2. Post a picture, sob story…or pretty much anything to get yourself some attention
  3. Tag ABC it’s me in the post
  4. Hold your breath to see if you have won

 

It’s simple! So just do it…competition runs till the end of December 2012. So you have nothing but time get creative!

 

I was just impressed but Julius ‘Vuvezela Politics’ Malema

Being one of the many unlucky masses in Johannesburg that has to travel through the crawling Johannesburg traffic every morning I have resigned myself to use the time for a little education on current affairs. Every morning I listen to the John Robbie show on 702 Talk Radio, for about an hour or so and usually find myself with some food for thought or finding out something new.

This morning Julius Malema was interviewed on the show and instead of his usual radical ‘I WILL SHOUT EVERYTHING’ politics, he actually seemed to be pretty level headed. He answered most of the questions posed to him with such conviction I actually started to believe what he was saying. I honestly and truly began to think: “Oh yes I see your point, nationalisation sounds like a great idea! Yes President Zuma must have singled you out, poor Juju how have these ‘dictators’ been able to get away with treating you like this?”

Now I’m not what some people would term uneducated, I have a internationally recognised degree and am considered a specialist in my field… so how did I find myself believing this man who I know to be a complete fraud? How did I start to relate to someone who openly advocates violence, nationalisation and a score of other unearthly things while seated comfortably in his plush leather car while ‘his’ people starve on the other side of his darkened windows?

I read somewhere a few years ago that African politics is a popularity contest. For the first time I can truly identify with this statement as I fell for it! I was sucked in, I actually felt sorry for the very man who sings: “Dubula amabhunu baya raypha.”

I felt like a sucker, waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out shouting: “You’ve been Pun’kd!” …no Ashton.

So if I wasn’t on a TV show and I’m not a complete idiot how did this happen? How is it possible that for a second I believed in Malema’s political plight? So I got to thinking isn’t that what all politicians do? They sucker you in, make you believe in their cause and get you to vote. Because that’s what it is it’s THEIR cause not the people’s cause. Being a politician is the most selfish career one can get into, there are of course the exceptions; take Mandela for instance (I guess at points in his career this too can be argued against). Most politicians however are in it for THEMSELVES, especially in Africa where leaders are not always held accountable for their actions.

So when did WE let this happen? When did we get suckered in by politicians? When did we start believing the men and women who stand up and tell us what we want to hear and condemn them when they say things we don’t necessarily want to hear, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. I really wish Ashton would jump out right about now.

Is Oppikoppi still a music festival?

Surely I can’t be the only one who was disappointed by Oppikopi this year?

Over 20 000 people paid R600 for their tickets to attend the most fantastic festival in the dusty wastelands of Northam Limpopo. According to my calculators calculations that’s R12 000 0000 on tickets alone!

Surely out of that the organisers of the festival could pay a group of halfway decent sound engineers who know what a volume button looks like to handle the backline? Apparently this was an impossible task as band after band was made to sound worse than Miley Cirus minus auto-tune.

aKing, possibly one of the biggest bands in the country played ¾  of their set for their own enjoyment as even the fans standing right in front of the speakers battled to hear the words to their songs. I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest Dance You’re On Fire fan, but I do enjoy their music every now and then, even they were made to sound like they were singing from the bottom of an old rusty tin can, causing me to abandon my foot long cheese griller in utter desperation and in a final bid to save my ears drums from simply bursting to stop the pain.

The Kongos who drew a crowd big enough to rival even Seether were forced to stop playing one song into their set due to the sound being so bad…at least I presume it was due to that. I respect them for stopping and preforming their sound check once again because to most people if the sound is rubbish they presume the band is rubbish which in the cause of Oppikoppi Sweet Thing was not the case for the majority of the bands. Thankfully by the time the last bands played on the final night of Oppi the engineers (if that is infact their job description) had managed to iron out all the issues, congratulations on being able to deliver two sets where fans could actually enjoy the music.

I enjoyed you Oppi, I really did but I won’t be coming back next year if I’m paying to hear music and I would be better off listening to my favourite bands on my cell phone speakers.

Some dustbins would also be great…until we meet again.

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My advice: stick to your shade of lipstick, pink is most definitely your colour.

Yes, I see it okay. I see the irony in my writing this post but I could not let this one go.

Few things in this world make me angry and one of them is complete ignorance. I’m sure a few of you may have seen The Christowitz Report circulating on Facebook and most likely ruining your Friday afternoon. Now I will admit when the first post came out I was slightly amused if not taken aback by the use of every swear word in the book.

Then came week two, I felt like I was watching an accident happen in slow motion and I still haven’t been able to look away. Then came the ‘I hate nature post’, I read it bemused and later discussed it with a friend of mine, both of us while reading it had felt inclined to write a blog post in reply to the rant but had denied ourselves the satisfaction. Having read this week’s report I simply could not resist.

The report claims that the point is to make people laugh “That’s the f&*king point. To the few of you who still don’t get the point of all this… maybe private school was a waste of your parents’ money.” The thing is that it’s not, perhaps it started out as funny, even I can admit that and sure parts of it are still rather humorous but where the report fails is where it dips its toes into the realm of actual opinion.

The reports uninformed rant about ‘down-the-middle-ness’ in my opinion is probably the most ridiculous thing I have ever had the misfortune of reading. A rant that stands against girls wearing pink lipstick, bad action movies and nature is standing for something? Perhaps you have a future in South African politics.

“Love some shit! Hate some shit! Make a decision and stick by it. Form an opinion and fight to defend it. Believe in something! Yank the double-sided dildo of mediocrity and indifference out of your ass and do something. Anything. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong or if you fail or succeed, just do it.” Encouraging people to stand for something, anything is just plain idiotic. There was once a man who hated Jews and loved killing them, he stuck by that decision and we are all aware he fought to defend it, he sure as hell believed in it. I presume it doesn’t really matter if he was right or wrong?

Sure we are encouraged to have opinions, but these opinions simply must be informed or they are harmful or just plain annoying. Pray tell, what is the use of an opinion on ‘Mall Dawdlers’? Is that not closer to mediocrity than anything else we may encounter in this world and I’m assured that an irrelevant opinion is just as useless and indifferent as no opinion at all.

Anyone with half an education surely must be fuming at this insult to their intelligence, sure we can ignore opinions and blogs such as the aforementioned, sure entering into a discussion about it is ironic but surely that is the point?

They say that you are only writing something worthwhile if people are complaining about it. In this case they are complaining because it’s ignorant, sensationalist rubbish and that, is not worth a dime.

My advice: stick to your shade of lipstick, pink is most definitely your colour.

 

Thailand – where to start?

I often have people asking me advice on traveling to S.E. Asia, especially with regard to Thailand, I think probably because it is the most popular destination for South Africans in S.E. Asia and I suppose for the rest of the world also.

This series of posts are specifically for budget travelers…if you are looking to do Thailand being shuffled from the airport straight to a resort you are doing it wrong. The whole experience of a holiday in Thailand is the people and the adventures you come across when you least expect it, not a mani pedi next to your pool at your over priced resort.

So my first and most important piece of advice would be:

DONT BOOK ANYTHING! Besides your air ticket of course.

Anyone who tells you to book accommodation before you depart has either never been to Thailand or stands to make some money off your booking. Not only is accommodation of all kinds available at the ‘drop of a fake dreadlock’ but it is cheap!

Cheap in SA is around R500 a night for a decent room….in Thailand it’s about 6$ a night for a room with a bed, aircon and a TV with a western toilet…and a window if you are lucky. This accommodation is a dime a dozen but make sure you ask to see the room first to check if it’s clean. My first night in Bangkok back in 2010 I made this mistake and spent the night on mattress stained with what looked like a large amount of blood, I had already paid for the room though so I tried to ignore my gag reflex and thank God for remembering my sleeping sheet.

Start on Khao San Road

Now KSR, dunned the Gateway to S.E. Asia is not everyone’s cup of tea. On the 7th day just before God decided to rest he burped and out came KSR. It’s definitely one of those things you just must see when you go to Thailand but like a lot of those ‘must sees’ once you have seen it there’s no real reason to go there again.

Having said that, it is a hub for cheap accommodation, cheap drinks and cheaper women…or men. Especially if you are travelling alone or in a pair KSR presents a great opportunity to meat hoards, literally hoards of fellow travellers, ask advice or find a travel mate. I would recommend asking fellow backpacker’s advice over going to a travel agent or a tout along the street.

Here is a little snippet of writing from my last visit to KSR:

Khao San road the only place in the world where you can enter a shy first time traveller and emerge a weary looking hippie with fisherman pants, various woven bangles, the obligatory tribal tattoo and of course a set a fresh dreadlocks…all for under $20.

KS road really is a inner city jungle, where hangers replace vines and gazebos and hundreds of intertwined electricity and telephone wires make a great canopy.

The much feared hill tribe women and the touts replace the jaguars, stalking you wherever you go with either a ‘crrrrooaak cccroakk’  or the rather awful ‘puuut’ …which supposedly represents the sound of a ping pong being…well you know popped out. The hundreds if not thousands of drunk English and Australians, put any elephant drunk on Marula fruit to shame, managing to make a ridiculous amount of noise, break anything they come across and still have the thick skin to think its normal to act that way.

Lets not forget the kings of the jungle…the famous lady boys…distinguishable by their adams apples…and if that’s not enough to tell them apart they are usually singing :

“Now I’m the king of the swingers
Oh, the jungle VIP
I’ve reached the top and had to stop
And that’s what botherin’ me
I wanna be a man, mancub
And stroll right into town
And be just like the other men
I’m tired of monkeyin’ around!”

But I digress!

I arrived in Bangkok and headed straight to KS road for a much needed nap…traveling with flu really isn’t fun. My driver Narathorn war really awesome and I found out he lives in his car and every 3 months he travels South to the border of Malaysia to give his family the money, even more surprising was that he is the same age as me…what different worlds we come from.

I stayed at a hostel/guest house called Lucky house just of KS road so there was no noise, its a really nice place value for money AND its clean…something not common along or near KS road. I met up with Craig my one friend..fluent in Hebrew…which was surprisingly helpful. After assuring me that he ‘hated’ shopping and ‘didn’t see the point’ we spent about 4 hours traversing the jungle deciding what shorts made his legs look better. =)

We decided that while we were weighing up which colour palate best suited his complexion to get a beer from 7/11…because they are much cheaper and you can walk around with them.

JACKPOT we found a beer for BHT25..about R6 only to find out it was rice wine and even the Thais don’t drink it! I even tried to give mine away to a beggar who blatantly refused it. Lesson learnt!

After getting hit on by a few more lady boys we decided to get some rest as we both had early starts the next morning.

Bye for now!

ABC

Some useful links are:

Lucky House – I have stayed here 3 times and have been satisfied each time. Be sure to get on the good side of the receptionist and she will give you a few much needed extras for free! Its also just off KSR so there’s no noise!

Official KSR website– Everything you need to know about the place and more. They are generally rather good with keeping their news stream updated.

 

 

Keep your dick in your pants

Unless you have been living in North Korea, I doubt you have yet to hear about the controversy surrounding the picture of our dear President Jacob Zuma by the rather talented and possibly unemployed Brett Murray.

Basically the picture titled“The Spear” displays Zuma in a Leninist stance with his ‘bits’ hanging out. I’m sure all of you remember the hours spent in English Literature in high school, or for those of us who took it for four years in university the months and months spent trying to decide what the artist meant in one line of a three page poem. It always comes down to the fact that we have no idea what the author of the poem meant. Similarly we have no idea what Brett Murray’s intentions were when he created the piece, although I am rather certain his intention was not to receive death threats.

Gwede Mantashe, secetary general of the A.N.C., said the painting played into stereotypes of black men as hypersexualised. “It is rude, crude and disrespectful.It has an element of racism. It says that black people feel no pain and can be portrayed walking around with their genitals in the open. They are objects of ridicule. I can tell you that if you were to draw a white politician in that way, the outcry would be totally different.”  And how would you know my dear Gwede?

Anyway here are just a few thoughts I have on the whole issue.

1.Lenin is more important than a penis.

Since when did a picture of a penis become more controversial than Vladimir Lenin himself, you know the guy who lead the Russian Revolution, was leader of the Bolshevik Party, and first ruler of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The dude who was possibly was partly to blame for a little thing called The Red Terror, you may have heard of it…if not get out of North Korea. Now I’m not going to get into a argument about the negatives and positives of Communism but to me it seems like somehow the point is being missed. After all one could say that roughly half of the world’s population has a penis, there was only one Lenin.

How is this not the issue?

2. The painting insults African culture?

Talk about a broad statement by Sonwabile Mancotywa, ceo of The National Heritage Council (NHC): “In our African culture and tradition this painting amounts to the most extreme indecency and misnomer.”

I’m African and I’m not offended by this in anyway. I did a survey around my office (or as far as the chain that connects me to my desk would stretch) and not one person felt their ‘African culture’ was insulted; in fact most people were simply amused when I showed them the uncensored picture.

What exactly is ‘African culture’? Now I realise this statement will ensue a flurry of angry comments calling me an uneducated fool, but has African culture always been the most modest of cultures?

Traditional African dress usually doesn’t involve much in way of clothing right? Please educate me if I’m wrong! Perhaps the correct statement would have been to say it is in insult to Zulu culture. But even then traditional Zulu garb doesn’t really provide much in terms of coverage? If an artist had painted a picture of Zuma or anyone in traditional Zulu garb with various private parts would there have been such an outcry? Go down to the Rosebank flee market on a Sunday and you will be greeted by an array of naked paintings of women, walk into CNA and your eyes will be assaulted by half naked women in the men’s magazine sections and for that matter the women’s section too.

Shock! Horror! Boobs!

Sock! Horror! Boobs?

3. So what if he’s the president?

If the painting was of a nameless face I would not be writing this post in angst. Since when did a picture displaying genitalia become such a hot topic. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon have produced what I would term much more explicit and provoking than Brett Murray?

Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Virtual Man has his penis hanging right out there for all to see, it’s even included in school textbooks but no one seems to have any problem with that. There are even half naked depictions of Jesus Christ himself yet you don’t see people vandalising the Louvre and causing all out anarchy.

I do believe there’s a little clause in our well guarded constitution called freedom of speech, now obviously there are also laws against defamation, but he’s the president of South Africa nogal. What president doesn’t get publically lambasted just about every day that they are in office? Even Mandela had his critics. You are a public figure people are going to say and do things, my suggestion is get over it.

This is art

William Kentridge, (again get out of North Korea) has said that:  “Both the work of the artist and the controversy his work arouses are to be welcomed,” and South Africans are “fortunate to live in a country with a Constitution that acknowledges the importance of open debate on all issues.” Dam right ‘Willy’!

What I find worrying is that there has been no official statement by Zuma himself. The A.N.C. have  called “The Spear” “distasteful, vulgar, indecent and disrespectful,” and “an affront to the dignity and the privacy of President Zuma in all his capacities, but also as a South African whose right to human dignity and privacy is protected and guaranteed by the South African Constitution.”

So is this

Where are you Jacob it’s your penis we are talking about? Perhaps you have better things to deal with like the unparalleled corruption in your government?

Yes I think there are better things to worry about then a picture of a penis let alone try muse on what the artist was thinking when he painted it.

Radiohead + South Africa = poop in pants

So Radiohead may just be coming to SA. After years of dating one of the biggest Radiohead fans out there I was constantly bombarded with a constant stream of their music. I only really started appreciating them once we had broken up…guess its the whole take the horse to the water vibe. BUT  what you need to do is go and like the page so they can be confirmed! So go do it NOW…please.

 

You can like the page here:Radiohead SA Tour